Imagine exploring the city with Professor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody and Lord Voldemort while sipping beers and cursing your mind off. One of the most popular films, In Bruges, stars these 2 actors and it’s all happening in the city of… Bruges.
Bruges has always been known as one of the most charming little cities in Europe. Not only is Bruges a beautiful canal city, the entire city is protected under UNESCO. Bruges finds itself in the Gothic constructions and architecture that highlights the medieval historic settlement. As one of Europe’s cultural hubs, you can be sure to enjoy the authentic past of medieval Europe.
One thing the Belgians are proud of is their beer. And in Bruges, this is no exception. In fact, people in Burges love their beer so much that there is a beer pipe line that connects their homes to the beer manufacturer. “Beer on tap” has now gotten a lot more serious in Bruges.
People in Bruges are extremely proud of their beers. And Bruges beer is only available in Bruges. If it is not made in the city itself, it is not Bruges beer. It is kind of like Champagne in France. And their beers do not disappoint. They are so good, it is probably the main reason I fell in love with Bruges.
The Belgians don’t joke when it comes to beer. There is a beer shop featuring all the different types of beer glasses. It also sells an assortment of annual award-winning beers.
Must Visit Bruges Beer Bar
Beer bar: 2be Beer Wall
Address: Wollestraat 53, Bruges 8000, Belgium
Contact: +32 50 61 12 22
Opening hours: 10am – 7.30pm, daily
How To Spend A Weekend In Bruges
One of the main attractions of Bruges is the canals. The city is separated by the water running through the city. Arriving in Bruges, you will realise that the city is like an island with water surrounding it. There are also old walls and old gates at the different entrance points.
The city is small to roam around the city on foot yet being a heritage and cultural hub, it is easy to spend a weekend here.
Day 1 in Bruges
You’ll probably arrive by the train or bus. They all stop at Brugge train station. There, you can walk 20min to the city center, the Market Place. Alternatively, you can take buses 1, 6, 11 or 16. The bus stop is at located just outside the train station. The bus takes 6min and it stops at Brugge Dijver. Cross the bridge and walk for 4min and you will arrive at Market Place.
The market place is famous for the annual Christmas Market and colorful buildings opposite the Belfry of Bruges. Climb up to the top of the 83 metres tall Belfry. Just a reminder that there are no lifts so you have to walk up all 366 steps. You will be rewarded with the breathtaking view of the entire city. Do also note that the steps and tower is really small so if you are claustrophobic, you should think twice before going up.
Trevellers fun fact: there are a few steps that are intentionally made lower than the rest. This is because during a fight in the medival ages, people who invade the city will be focused on running up the stairs and they will trip at those trick steps. That is how the Bruges fighters can win the fight or get ahead!
When you are done with the Belfry of Bruges, head over to the Provinciaal Hof on the right. It is known as the provincial Palace and part of it was the governor’s residence. Inside, you can see the neo-Gothic façade arthicteture of the 19th century. The building is now a location for ceremonial events and exhibitions.
After, walk towards the canals and arrive at Burg Square. It is one of the first places where people lived in the city. It used to be the base of the Counts of Flanders too, and the Burg became the political and religious centre of the region. Till today, the Burg remains as one of the administrative centre of Bruges. You can see the flags and symbols of different Belgian regions flying at the Burg.
What caught my attention was the Town Hall, The Stadhuis. The Gothic Bruges City Hall is the oldest city halls in the region. Not only is it grand and beautiful, there was a wedding happening inside. Fancy cars parked in front of the city hall and a pair of happy couple emerged from that fancy building. Isn’t that a great location to get married in?
Enter the Basilica of the Holy Blood to admire the interior design. Enter the basilica by the side stairs. In the tiny area beside the entrance, you have a cute chocolatier. The chocolate there is so delicious. You can go in to try the chocolates for free.
Hungry? Walk through the tiny colorful alley, Blind Donkey Alley (Blinde Ezelstraat). It is a small alley that links Burg Square to the old fish market, Vismarkt. It is also one of the most scenic and historical canal there. At the alley, be sure to look up. There is a tiny statue made of pure gold!
The Vismarkt is the old market. In the past, merchants will purchase goods from the traders by the canal and sell their goods in the market. It is not uncommon for the place to be busy in the early mornings and merchants killing animals to sell. Today, it is a vintage market are that sells handmade goods, painting, cutlery and accessories.
Walk along the canals to note a few things. In the past, there are frequent wars and attacks on the traders. People try to sneak into the city or steal from traders. There was taxes on goods being shipped into the city too, so people try to bypass that. How does the government of Burges deal with that then? They establish different “check points” throughout the canals. Below the bridges lie wire nets. In case of intruders, the nets will be raised, trapping the intruders. From the several towers, the intruders are killed with bow and arrows.
Continue walking down the canals along Dijver. Do keep a look out for the statue of Jan van Eyckplein. He is a famous artist in the Flemish history and painted many great painting.
A little further, you will arrive in one of my personal favourite places in Bruges: Hotel de Tuilerieën. Burges used to be a trading hub when Venice was in her glory days, and this hotel is the evidence. Hotel de Tuilerieën is one of the oldest hotels in Bruges. The windows of this hotel is built with handmade venetian glass! The venetian glass windows were made in the 15th century. It is also my favourite place because they have this cute little whisky bar facing the canals. Imagine sipping some scotch and looking over the canals through 15th century venetian glass windows. That’s how you spend a weekend.
There are lots of small streets and alleys that are classic Bruges so should take time to explore the small roads and alleys. The Bonifacius Bridge is the most beautiful bridge in Bruges, in my opinion. It is a tiny stone bridge that connects to the Church of Our Lady Bruges. It is extremely picturesque; running water below the bridge and houses on the side of the canals.
The Church of Our Lady Bruges dominates the skyline of the city. It is also a main lookout point in the medieval times, in case of intruders entering the city. Try to look out for tiny holes in the building. That’s to shot any incoming intruders.
Depending on your interest, you can visit the Archeologiemuseum or modern art museum by Pablo Picasso. Alternatively, you can go shopping in the main streets of Zilverstraat or Steenstraat.
If those are not of your interest, then may I introduce Bruges Beer Experience. It is a beer museum and there is a bar at the end of the tour. Inside, you can learn about how proud Bruges is about their beer and check out all the local brew when you are there! Alternatively, you can go to the famous Bruges brewery: Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan. Go on a tour to see how that beer is produced and share some with your friends in the bar.
Unwind during the night by visiting more bars and enjoying the local brews of Bruges. For example, chill by 2be Beer Wall, walk to Staminee De Garre for their little hidden bar or the famous ‘t Poatersgat. 2be Beer Wall has a wall of all sorts of beer and their specific glasses. Staminee De Garre is hidden down little alley. I changed upon it while getting lost in the city, and found a great bar! ‘t Poatersgat is a hole in the wall and you have to walk down the stairs into the bar below!
Day 2 in Bruges
After going to all the famous landmarks in the city centre yesterday, today is focused on the very local aspect of the city. I’m sure you have heard of areas where nuns live. But have you ever seen the area before? Well you are in luck because there is such an are in Bruges!
Trevellers fun fact: Bruges is and was a very rich city. You can see how rich they are by the number of “steps” they have on the roofs. The more steps, the richer they are.
Head down to Beguinage Begijnhuisje. Nuns and religious ladies lived in this little complex within the city. Nuns still do live there so be careful when you are taking pictures and making noise. Only ladies live in this area and they dedicate their lives to religion. So you can be sure to find little churches inside.
Despite the development of Bruges city, this area still remains true to the 17th century architecture and lifestyle. There is a park in the middle and if you are there during spring, the grass patch is entirely filled with blossoming flowers! Spend the afternoon chilling under the trees with a book or chat with some ladies there.
You can walk along the outer canals, along the old city walls. Be sure to look out for some city gates too, like the famous Kruispoort gate.
Do you think that the Netherlands is the only places with canals and windmills? Bruges has canals and windmills too! Near the Kruispoort gate, you will arrive in a little hill on Sint-Janshuis Mill. With Bruges so close to the Netherlands, the culture is quite similar. Buy some bread at the bakery nearby and head to the mills to rest or climb up the mills for some pictures. There are a 4 mills for you to take pictures. Sometimes they are open and you can enter it.
Lastly, at the edge of Bruges, you will find Ezelpoort. It is one of the old city gates and it is huge and fancy. Stroll or rent a bicycle along the water way. There are parks for you to rest and chill too.
If you still have time, you should visit other places like the Astridpark and Hof Sebrechts. They are great parks to hang out, chill out or join any activities going on then. There are also many great architectural buildings and they are protected by UNESCO with a sign on their door!
If you really have lots of time left, you can rent a bicycle and cycle for an hour towards the beach in Knokke-Heist or Blankenberge.
Bruges is a great city for a weekend and to wander about the city on your own. You’ve got great beers, chocolates and waffles. Share this itinerary with your friends and comment on your favourite place in Bruges!